One of the joys of spring is is observing the antics of insects and their relatives as they resume their activities outdoors. To celebrate this annual renaissance, the Department of Entomology hosts an award winning Insect Petting Zoo as part of the Maryland Day Gala at the College Park Campus of the University of Maryland on Saturday, April 27, from 10 am to 4 pm. This year’s petting zoo will feature an incomparable ensemble of friendly, ferocious, and creepy crawly creatures. A visit to the petting zoo is sure to delight insect aficionados of all ages.
This year's extravaganza features bugs from around your home and around the world. Giant Lubber Locusts straight from the Everglades of Florida will reveal their favorite delicacies and how they defend themselves from being eaten. Asian and Australian Walking Sticks are true masters of disguise and Giant Malaysian leaf insects will blow your mind as they hide in the branches of trees. See if you can spot a few Giant Malaysian leaf insects hiding in the display case as you enter the foyer of the Plant Sciences Building.
Lubber grasshoppers completely change their looks from red and black baby nymphs (left) to yellow, rose and black adult locusts (above).
Walking sticks from different parts of the world can differ widely in appearance. Left: the Asian walking stick. Right: the Australian walking stick.
Watch out for the whip scorpion that has a clever trick up its sleeve, or should we say its tail, to thwart attacks by enemies. If you are lucky, you might catch a glimpse of a black widow spider with a bright red hourglass tattooed on her abdomen. The arts of trickery, mimicry, thanatosis, and other feats of deception and disguise will be revealed by Blue Death Feigning Beetles, Robber Flies, Polyphemus Moths, Flower Flies, and Monarch Butterflies.
The Insect Zoo is not just a treat for the eyes. Children of all ages will have the chance to hold and touch (with parental permission of course) a giant millipede from the desert or a hairy caterpillar from a cherry tree. If touching isn’t your thing, then you can listen to the buzzing of a bee or the hissing of a cockroach from Madagascar. Meet face to face the number one killer of humans on the planet – the dreaded Anopheles mosquitoes.
These femme fatales are the number one killer of humans on the planet.
Curious smells are on the menu as well. Learn what unwelcome house guest has the aroma of cilantro and discover an arachnid with the pungent odor of vinegar. If you are feeling social, investigate the wonders of social insects including honey bees and termites.
Learn why honeybees and other pollinators are at risk.
Stop by the invasive species corner and meet dastardly Emerald Ash Borers, the nefarious home invader Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, and the newcomer in our region, Spotted Lanternfly.
Children can collect insect stickers and the first 700 visitors may take home a Terrapin Lady Beetle to release in their garden to put a beat-down on insect pests lurking there.
Don’t miss The Swamp! If you enjoy the life aquatic, be sure to stop by The Swamp across the hall and learn how dragon flies capture their prey and how diving beetles extract oxygen from water.
So, come one, come all to explore Maryland Day and the Insect Petting Zoo!
To learn more about Maryland Day and the location of the Insect Petting Zoo and The Swamp, please click on the following links:
Maryland Day: https://marylandday.umd.edu/
Insect Petting Zoo and The Swamp: https://entomology.umd.edu/news/umd-entomologys-insect-zoo-and-discover-the-swamp-exhibits-at-maryland-day
Bug of the Week thanks Dr. Paula Shrewsbury for organizing the Insect Petting Zoo and Dr. Bill Lamp for organizing The Swamp at Maryland Day. Special thanks to Todd Waters and Chris Sargent for making our arthropods the happiest six and eight legged creatures on the planet. Thanks also to Chris for assisting in the production of our videos.